UPDATE 2-Fifteen confirmed dead in California mudslide, more casualties feared
13 January, 2018, 06:30
Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Amber Andersonsaid Wednesday two dozen people remained missing. Torrential rains unleashed flash floods in the Santa Ynez Mountains, where the biggest wildfire on record in California stripped vegetation from steep hillsides and burned more than 1,000 homes last month.
Officials did not provide any further information on the girl's condition or if any of her family members had been trapped.
On Tuesday, emergency workers using search dogs and helicopters to rescue dozens of people stranded in mud-coated rubble in the normally pristine area, sandwiched between the ocean and the sprawling Los Padres National Forest, about 110 miles (180 km) north of Los Angeles. More than 30,000 homes and businesses were left without power as downed trees and power lines, as well as boulders and debris, made roads impassable.
Firefighters slogged through mud and debris to reach 14-year-old Laura Cantin in a rescue effort that took almost six hours Tuesday in Santa Barbara County. As of January 10, 13 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured.
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"We can't get to them, and they can't get to us", Yaneris Muniz, spokesperson for Santa Barbara County, said in a statement. Unfortunately, even though Santa Barbara County issued mandatory evacuations for 7,000 people, those killed in the mudflow in Montecito were not in a mandatory evacuation zone.
Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the primary counties affected by the downpour, were the same counties that were overwhelmed by the Thomas Fire this winter.
"Rescue crews have managed to clear the roadways to free the 300 residence that have been trapped since Tuesday in Romero Canyon", Eliason added.
Police said the scene "looked like a World War One battlefield".
The death toll of 13 is expected to rise. This type of soil can not absorb water as easily, making the region more vulnerable to mudslides during heavy rains-such as the ones that dumped five inches of rain on parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties this week.
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